WASHINGTON D.C.– The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it filed two civil actions in federal court in the Central District of California, seeking to enjoin the importation and sale of illegal and dangerous children’s products by two California companies and three individuals for importing. DOJ filed the two actions at the request of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), alleging that the defendants were responsible for importing children’s products containing, among other things, lead, phthalates and small parts posing a choking hazard for children under the age of 3. The companies and defendant individuals have agreed to settle the lawsuits and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction.
“Companies who do not comply with CPSC’s statutes and regulations regarding toys put American children at risk,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Parents have a right to feel confident that the toys their children play with are safe.”
“We have zero tolerance for companies and individuals who put children at risk,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye. “To protect our children from unsafe and dangerous toys, we’ll continue to use all available enforcement tools at our disposal as well as continue to collaborate with our federal partners. Parents deserve no less when it comes to the safety of their children’s toys.”
“There is no greater responsibility of the Department of Justice than to protect our nation’s children,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California. “Today’s action demonstrates the Department’s commitment to keeping our children safe from all sources of harm.”
Both complaints allege that the defendants imported toys and other children’s products in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). One complaint was filed against Brightstar Group Inc., a Los Angeles importer and retailer of children’s products and toys, and its owner, Sherry Chen, 61, of Arcadia, Calif. According to the complaint, CPSC collected dozens of samples from Brightstar’s import shipments as they attempted to enter the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Calif., and from Brightstar’s Los Angeles facility. Based on their findings, CPSC issued nine Letters of Advice between September 2013 and April 2015, notifying the Brightstar defendants that their products violated federal standards.
CPSC found numerous children’s products, including a fire engine set, a tea set, toy boxing gloves, collapsing stroller and marbles, in violation of the CPSA, the FHSA and related regulations. Most of the violative products were stopped at import and were not sold to consumers. Chen is also sued for violations that include importing violative infant rattles, occurring while Chen was the manager of Taifung Corp., a now-dissolved California corporation owned by her husband that also imported and sold children’s products and toys.
A separate action was filed against Unik Toyz Trading Inc. (Unik), a Los Angeles importer and retailer of children’s products and toys, Unik’s owner, Julie Tran, 33, and the company’s manager, Kiet Tran, 38, both of Arcadia, Calif. CPSC identified 39 samples of children’s products imported by Unik, including toy cars, toy trains, bubble guns and art materials, that violate federal standards for children’s toys, as set forth in the complaint. These violations include illegal levels of lead content and toys intended for children under the age of 3 that contained small parts and accessible batteries.
The defendants in both lawsuits agreed to settle the litigation and be bound by a consent decree of permanent injunction. All of the defendants agreed to immediately cease all importation and sale of toys and children’s products, unless and until the CPSC determines that the firm’s practices have come into compliance with the law and with various remedial measures set out in the decrees. The Unik consent decree has been entered by the court and the proposed Brightstar consent decree is awaiting judicial approval.
The cases are being handled by Trial Attorneys Melanie Singh and Ann F. Entwistle of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, with the assistance of Renee McCune of the CPSC’s Office of the General Counsel. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California also provided assistance.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
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